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Pulsar magnetospheric convulsions induced by an external magnetic field

By Fan Zhang

Abstract

The canonical pulsar magnetosphere contains a bubble of closed magnetic field lines that is separated from the open lines by current sheets, and different branches of such sheets intersect at a critical line on the light cylinder (LC). The LC is located far away from the neutron star, and the pulsar’s intrinsic magnetic field at that location is much weaker than the commonly quoted numbers applicable to the star surface. The magnetic field surrounding supermassive black holes that reside in galactic nuclei is of comparable or greater strength. Therefore, when the pulsar travels inside such regions, a non-negligible Lorentz force is experienced by the current sheets, which tends to pull them apart at the critical line. As breakage occurs, instabilities ensue that burst the bubble, allowing closed field lines to snap open and release large amounts of electromagnetic energy, sufficient to power fast radio bursts (FRBs). This process is necessarily associated with an environment of a strong magnetic field and thus might explain the large rotation measures recorded for the FRBs. We sketch a portrait of the process and examine its compatibility with several other salient features of the FRBs

Topics: radiation mechanisms: general, plasmas, pulsars: general
Publisher: EDP Sciences
DOI identifier: 10.1051/0004-6361/201629254
OAI identifier: oai:edpsciences.org:dkey/10.1051/0004-6361/201629254
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